YMCA event to serve as breast cancer awareness month kickoff

YMCA event to serve as breast cancer awareness month kickoff

Record-Journal


WESTERLY — Three local people will be honored during the month of October when the greater Westerly-Pawcatuck area goes pink to highlight breast cancer awareness.

Sunday will mark the official kickoff for “PINKtober,” when Leo and Heather Roche and Marcie Brensilver become the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation’s 2015 Breast Cancer Awareness honorees at an event co-sponsored by the Ocean Community YMCA’s Westerly-Pawcatuck branch and the Brodeur Foundation.

Brensilver, a Stonington resident and this year’s Special Honoree, is a 24-year breast cancer survivor, a founding member of the foundation, and the foundation’s all-time top fundraiser, according to Sandy Nunes Maniscalco, the vice president and co-founder of the foundation.

During a routine breast exam in 1991, Brensilver found a lump that turned out to be cancerous. She had a unilateral mastectomy and received chemotherapy as part of her treatment. Later, she chose to have her second breast removed.

Brensilver said that when she learned how much money was given to overhead costs in other cancer-awareness organizations, she was disturbed. When she discovered the Brodeur Foundation and learned of its mission, she was relieved.

Maniscalco and the late Norma Logan started the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation in order to establish a nonprofit organization that would earmark all money raised for breast cancer research.

They named the organization to honor their friend, Terri Brodeur, who received a diagnosis of stage four breast cancer in 2003 and died two years later, leaving behind a husband and three young children. Effective treatment options just didn’t exist back then, Maniscalco said.

Brensilver said she found Logan and Maniscalco’s vision — to donate 100 percent of all money earned to breast cancer research — “important and inspiring.”

Also being honored this year are longtime foundation supporters Leo and Heather Roche, the owners of the Brazen Hen in Westerly, the Black Sheep in Niantic, and Harp and Hound in Mystic. Heather is a 10-year breast cancer survivor.

Both of the Roches, who are traveling in Europe but plan to be back for Sunday’s event, have been strong and generous supporters of the Brodeur Foundation.

The PINKtober campaign, which is being sponsored by the Westerly-Pawcatuck Downtown Business Association, has three main goals, according to association president Colin Bennett.

“First is, it’s a great cause and we hope to raise a bunch of money for breast cancer research and those affected by it,” said Bennett, noting that the association will display 60 pink flags throughout the downtown during the month of October.

A second goal, he said, is for the association to collect the email addresses of all downtown business owners so everyone can keep informed about upcoming events.

“Then we can encourage a higher percentage of participation,” he said, and “become more organized and cohesive as a double downtown area.”

The third goal is to “create a small buzz and maybe drive some downtown attention and foot traffic via pink ribbons, signs, flags, lights, or whatever we can put up to show that we are all a part of the cause,” he said.

The association is encouraging all downtown businesses to participate in some way, whether by a straight donation or by donating a percentage of their sales throughout the month to the foundation. Some businesses are simply giving donation cards to customers, provided to them by the foundation.

“It’s up to the individual business owners to decide how they want to participate,” he said.

Sunday’s kickoff event will be held in the gymnasium at the Westerly-Pawcatuck Branch of the Ocean Community YMCA at 95 High St, from 3 to 5 p.m. This will be the third annual Breast Cancer Awareness Launch, said Maniscalco, noting that Mia Byrnes of Mia’s Prime Time, who is managing sponsorships for the event, is serving as co-chair, and Tim Babcock, director of operations at the YMCA, will serve as venue coordinator. The public is welcome to attend the kickoff.

Special recognition will also be given to Lisa Konicki and the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce, Colin Bennett and the Downtown Business Association, and Julie Holland for hosting the fourth annual Pink Ladies Night at the Twisted Vine.

For more information, visit www.tbbcf.org.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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